Well I’ll be damned!
In the space of six weeks I have completely and utterly changed my lifestyle. I think it’s fair to say I’ve turned my life around a bit, certainly in terms of health and fitness. It’s been a long time since I last felt this healthy, and since I last felt this proud of myself. I’m definitely one who seems to spend all her time being proud of other people, so to say I’m pleased with myself at the minute is, in itself, a huge achievement. And I think I’ve earned the bragging rights!
Dieting is something I’ve spent the past fifteen years or so doing, off and on. I’ve rarely had success- really just the time when I was trying to get pregnant and I lost 6 stone. But I had a very definite goal then. To have a baby. Every other time I’ve lost a stone or two, then put it back on, and so on! I’m convinced I’ve always failed as I’ve done fad diets, and pretty much starved myself. I’ve seen a time when I’ve eaten a 50 calorie cup of soup for lunch, and then just chicken and salad for tea. This approach worked for a few months, made me drop weight quickly, but also made me resent everything I was doing. With the resentment comes the end of the diet. Hello take always, and hello the pounds I’d lost. The negative attitude would creep back, and I’d begin to feel horrible about being so heavy (nineteen and a half stone at my absolute largest in 2010- something I’m absolutely ashamed of, and mortified to admit, but this blog is about honesty isn’t it?).
Last summer I was almost back to my heaviest. I was eighteen stone and eleven pounds, and realistically a size 20 (most definitely squeezing into size 18s)! I knew I was in trouble. I found it easier to pretend I was happy being so big, but I was kidding myself. I wasn’t happy. I was miserable. My skin was atrocious, I struggled to get out of my bed in the mornings and I suffered from horrendous mood swings. My periods disappeared again too, which did not help the cycle I was trapped in. Noah was turning two, and I couldn’t use the baby weight excuse any longer. I had no excuse to be so fat. Work was stressful and I found juggling motherhood and a full time teaching job hard work. I just had no time to look after myself. I ate too much junk and drank way too much wine and gin (a gin and tonic every night for supper- but it was slimline so that’s fine, erm…). I was signed off work with stress related illness in September and it was the jolt I needed. 29 years old and I was ridiculously unhealthy. I began to feel quite rueful towards myself, for what I was doing to myself. I slowly lost weight just by dieting (a mixture of calorie counting and cutting out “crap”). I also started doing Zumba once a week to get myself moving. By Christmas I was down to sixteen stone eleven. Go me!
Do you ever diet and get a plateau; a moment where you might actually give up? I hit mine in about January, and stayed on 16 stone 11 for most of the month, fluctuating here and there. It was either give up or try a new approach, so I bought myself a Fitbit. It’s a handy little gadget that counts your steps, and the app allows you to track exercise and calories. It was the motivation I needed and got me moving. Since I bought this in February, barely a day has gone by when I have walked less than 10,000 steps. I shifted another 14lbs once I got moving daily. I was also down to a comfortable size 16 on my top and an 18 on my bottom. To wear size 18 jeans that didn’t cut me in half was an achievement!
I began to plateau again towards Easter. I was hovering around 15 stone 11, give or take a few pounds. I wanted to be comfortably under sixteen stone and it wasn’t happening. Zumba was costing me £20 a month, which was a bit much just for one 60 minute class. I wanted to do more, so I knew I needed to join the gym. Workington Leisure Centre (part of Carlisle Leisure- www.cultureleisurelife.com) offer a membership for £28 a month, inclusive of all classes, the gym and swimming. It was a no brainer really, so I signed myself up to a twelve month membership. To begin with, I just went swimming. Then I started Aqua Fit. It’s far harder than it used to be, and you get out of it what you put in. It’s certainly my favourite exercise to do. The water gives five times more resistence than other classes, and it takes a lot of the strain so it doesn’t feel as harsh during the class. I still feel it the next day though! Andy and I play badminton every week, which builds up a sweat and I can feel it helping my arm definition (my bingo wings don’t wobble for as long)! I was also going to the gym once a week. I love going. I go at about 8pm, once Noah’s in bed and once most of the hardcore poser types have left. Some nights in the only one in the cardio area, which I bliss.
I’m now going to the gym 3-5 times per week: three if I can get to badminton and Aqua Fit, four or five if I can’t. This week I have done some form of exercise at the leisure centre every single day. Even when we had Ofsted at work, I managed it.
I may be obsessed or addicted, but is it a bad thing? I feel so much fitter and healthier than I did before I joined. Today I swam 70 lengths, which is 1750m, in less than an hour. I do five+ miles on the bike every time I’m at the gym, as well as 2 miles on the cross trainer. I’ve started adding more to my cardio workouts, and do weights once a week too. My hour a day doing exercise is like my own therapy. I can work out frustrations, make plans and relax a little bit. It’s my “me time”! I’m loving it!
When I weighed myself yesterday I was stone seven pounds. I’m taking it with a pinch of salt as its approaching “that time of the month” and my weight goes up and down by four or five pounds. But it’s been two weeks in a row where I’ve been below fifteen stone. By BMI is almost overweight instead of obese, yippee! I’m a definite size 16 and feel amazing for it. Yes, to many being as heavy as I am, and still being “plus size” and medically and “technically” obese may not be something to be proud of. I’m always going to be heavy. Even at my thinnest, when I’d got to a size 12-14, I was thirteen stone. I’m never going to be a 10 stone waif, and that’s perfectly ok!
I look at the journey though. Where I started in September, to where I am now has been a long road. I’m not at the end of it either. I’d like to shape up and become a size 14 (at least on my top half). Some of my trousers are still a size 18- way too big on the waist but I’ve still got sizeable hips and a big butt so I need room for them. I’m ok with that, because they look much better than they once did and I feel much better. My focus is more to be strong and healthy, rather than thin. If I get another couple of stone off and drop another dress size, then that’s a bonus!
The best part of all of this exercise is that I can eat plenty and still lose weight! Gone are the starvation diets. I eat well: stirfries, lean meat, fish, fresh fruit and veg. Protein bars are a must after I’ve been to the gym too. I have more than 50 calories for my lunch at work! If I have a day off my healthy eating, I don’t feel guilty. I just go back to normal and burn it all off in the gym. This evening I’ve enjoyed more carbs than I intended, and shared a bag of Haribos with my godson whilst having a movie night. It’s been bliss! I swam off 600 calories this morning so it’ll do me absolutely no harm! The enjoyment from letting go is worth the need to work hard. I call it my balanced lifestyle.
I’m working hard to shape up and deserve to feed my body lots of good things. I don’t feel like giving up. I want to work harder, and try new exercise and classes. I want to get into the best shape of my life, regardless of size. If it takes me another year, then so be it! I’m in this for the long haul. It’s all about my lifestyle, not just some diet! I no longer care about being thin, I want to be really, really healthy! My message is this. Don’t starve yourself. Eat well. Work hard! It’s a big change, but an amazing one.